Not long after winning male Olympian of the Year 2019, Malaysian wushu exponent Loh Choon How shocked sports fans worldwide with the recent announcement of his retirement. At just 26 years old, How has accomplished a lot in his relatively short career — including winning silver at the World Championships and double gold at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines in the past year alone.

However, How’s ongoing struggle with sports injuries and the consequential lengthy recovery process has lead him to his decision to retire. It should be noted that his decision to retire still requires approval by the Wushu Federation of Malaysia before it’s made final.  

Multiple sports injuries 

How has sustained numerous different injuries throughout his wushu career — including a torn meniscus, torn medial collateral ligament, back injury, and crooked spine. “My condition is very bad. Even now I cannot stand for long; after 15 minutes I need to sit and rest. The injuries were accumulated over the years during training and competitions”, How told the media. The wushu superstar also mentioned his struggle with pain while participating in the SEA Games, despite winning two gold medals. 

An impressive career

“For sure, this year’s performance is the best in my sporting career,” How noted. At the Philippines SEA Games on December 1st 2019, How won Malaysia’s first gold medal in the men’s taijiquan event. Impressively, he then won a second gold in the men’s taijijian event the next day.

How was also crowned male Olympian of the Year at the 26th Olympic Council of Malaysia Annual Dinner and Awards Night — a prestigious award that means a lot to How as he’s only the second wushu exponent to receive it. The first was Ho Ro Bin in 2002. At the ceremony, How received RM10,000 and a gold medal (sponsored by Coca-Cola Company) directly from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

The importance of injury recovery 

How’s multiple injuries highlight the importance for athletes to take care of their bodies and prioritize both injury prevention and recovery. In particular, foam rolling can help sore muscles, boost circulation, and aid injury recovery. Vibrating foam rollers have the added benefit of further stimulating the muscle fibers by sending sound waves through them.

The muscles then begin contracting and relaxing, which results in increased blood flow, improved range of motion, and reduced muscle soreness. In one study, vibration therapy was found to improve blood flow and muscle strength and decrease muscle wastage in spinal injury patients. Vibrating foam rollers can help athletes boost their strength, speed, and performance and should be incorporated into any training or recovery program. 

As for How, he doesn’t intend to quit wushu altogether. “So I am considering to focus on recovery and rest, but even if I retire, I won’t stop from wushu. I will continue my career in coaching and impart my knowledge to others,” How explains.

Wushu fans can therefore expect to see much more from How in the future.  

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